Slump

Two friends fall asleep
next to each

with the innocence of puppies
after a playful romp.

They slump onto each other.
Head upon a shoulder.

Head upon a head.
Hands touching along blue jean seams.

Their breath soft as a breeze
through willow branches.

A flutter of pale green leaves.
A sleepy recession of awareness.

One dreams a thread through the needle’s eye.
The other dreams an unnoticed sun.

Two friends will wake.
And realize their closeness.

One will uncurl and stretch naturally.
The other will doubt the innocence of it all.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

New Midnight Ritual

I wake from a dream.
It was not my dream.
A flock of snow geese dreamt me.

An owl swooped down
with the message scrolling from its beak
I am the savior of the world.

The owl ate me.
But I did not die.
I felt myself pressed into canvas.

Hieronymus Bosch added colors
with confident brush strokes.
He shaded dimensions on a lost Annunciation painting.

Words scroll from Gabriel’s mouth to Mary’s ear.
The pope and bishops sit at a table in the background,
knives and forks ready to parse the cooked goose.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Three Second Burst

I purchased a skiff
and painted eyes on the prow
so it would guide me
through the seas of sleep.

The unimaginable regularly appears,
blows storms through my dreams.
To prepare me, my angels say.
I have met the ruthless segment of humanity.

I met a hungry soldier in a time of war
who used a grenade launcher to herd geese close
then killed every one of them
with his armored personnel carrier’s machine gun.

I cannot say the preparation
my dreams sent me
equipped me to handle
this real life equivalent.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Group Session

At night, before bed,
Paul takes dreams out of a jar
and swallows them whole.

Ellie deadens her dreams
with red wine purchased
from an oaken cask at her corner tavern.

Dave’s dreams visit him nine times each
until their cat-lives are used up
before a new one appears.

Annie dreams marathons at first sleep
and seagulls following trollers
as the sun first touches her window.

Larry clamshells his dreams
only to nightly envision an octopus
crack them open and feast.

Megan walks a moon drenched beach
her footprints disappearing
almost as soon as her feet clear the sand.

I do not remember my dreams.
I prefer my sacred messages
delivered after tea by angels.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Weight Of Mind

I placed Dream
on the bathroom scale.
Zero.

I placed my Broken Poetry Prize dream
on the bathroom scale.
One-oh-six. It weighed me down.

I placed my Bicycle Across America dream
on the bathroom scale.
It rose seven inches above the tiles.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Drag

I patrol your slumber
in search of suitable dreams
to co-opt—
remove really—
to apply to my
own future
in conjunction
with other dreams
highjacked
by the handful
from the shut-eye club.

Mixed metaphors.
An unawareness of names.
Kinship.
An expanding thought bubble
with rainbow skin.
Vibrant dimensions.
So much humiliation to sort through.
Foolishness.
Layers and layers and layers.
Fifty-two card pickup.
I mispronounce Jazz.
Exhaled on a single trumpet note.

A solitary dot
denotes a feather
denotes flight
denotes ascension
denotes heavenly air—
the breath of love
propels all motion
with a puff.


copyright © Kenneth P. Gurney

Misery Love Company

A drunk walked oblivious to the approaching skunk.
Neither was in a hurry to get anywhere.
Both of them grieved recently deceased fathers.
Both fathers died by automobile violence.
The moon shone on both of them.
The moonlight through leaves projected fatherly ghosts.
Both their eyes bulged at seeing fatherly ghosts.
Each retreated a few steps.
Midnight came and went unnoticed.
Both their ghost spotting eyes stared at the same location.
The drunk took a hit of his brown bag quart bottle.
Unintentionally, he spilled some beer to the ground.
The skunk lapped it up.
Insomnia abandoned both of them.
They curled up next to each other under a park bench.
Sleep outweighed their grieving dreams.
Their dead father dreams entered a queue for the next night.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Undeciphered

In a dream where my own death
throws me limp against the boulders
of Gettysburg’s Devil’s Den,
young men grown old too soon
ignore my plight in their own desperation
to maintain a brisk fire
upon the enemy’s last known location.
The humidity holds the sulfurous smoke
eye level and nineteen out of twenty musket balls
either fly overhead or flatten
against the igneous stone
eons older than our uncompromising grudge.

As my soul escapes my body
my left foot catches between my ribs
and I cannot rise toward the heavens,
as I believe I should, fighting with God on my side
to protect my people’s rights and liberties.
My ethereal hands pry at the ribs to no effect.
I am locked in the swirling maelstrom
as charge and counter charge
overrun this ancient stone,
this firing line disintegrating
only to be replaced by another
as support comes forward
to create more work for tomorrow’s
gravediggers and undertakers.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Acequia

The night tosses my sleep about the bed.
It pretzels my legs.
The sheets escape to a quiet place on the floor to slumber.

I murmur a thousand unintelligible untruths,
to be released from this nightly torment.
Ten years. Twenty years. Thirty years and more.

Along my spine is a map of linen folds.
In the air above my bed ten-thousand torn post-it notes
slip away from their messages.

Deep waters flood into the field adjacent to my open window.
The acequia gate opened by tricksters, drunks
or, more likely, old man Rodriguez for his blooming acres.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney